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Habs Report

by Archives October 7, 2008

And so it begins . . . 99 years and 24 Stanley Cups in the making, the Montreal Canadiens will ring in their 100th year with countless fans, a mix of veteran and young talent, and of course, a little help from the ghosts of the old Forum.
The Canadiens ended their preseason with a disappointing shut out loss Saturday night at the hands of the Minnesota Wild.
Shortly before sending the last few kids back to Hamilton – including phenom Max Pacioretty – the Habs were playing with what many analysts expect to be the team’s regular lines and sophomore net minder Carey Price.
The team wrapped up their preseason with a record of 6-3-0 after one of the shortest camps in recent memory. They played nine games in only 12 nights, and now have until Friday to reboot, focus and get ready for their season opener against the Buffalo Sabres.
Predictions for the centennial season are somewhat varied, but most generally have the Habs coming out on top – or very close – in the East. GM Bob Gainey was able to land a few names during the off-season, despite no Mats Sundin. Acquisitions Alex Tanguay, Robert Lang and tough guy Georges Laraque will make their regular season debut as Canadiens late this week. Tanguay, a left-winger, had a disappointing season last year with Calgary, and will hopefully be a good fit for the team because of his speed and ability to move the puck. Veteran centre Lang will fill the team’s need for a skilled centre and will hopefully serve as a solid replacement for an indecisive Sundin. Meanwhile, at 6’3″ and 253 pounds, Laraque had added to the team’s size. A tough and dependable player like Laraque really adds to the team’s depth. More than just a typical tough guy, this right-winger provides the team with good hands and an even better right-hook. He is feared by other tough guys in the league, and at the end of the day having him on the team is good for everyone’s confidence.
Much was made of the Sundin situation over the summer. While many were disappointed with the result, there is an important positive side to this non-acquisition. The contracts of captain Saku Koivu, last year’s point-leader Alex Kovalev and star defenceman Mike Komisarek are all up at the end of the season. Not acquiring Sundin means that Gainey should have more cap space to resign them.
The Canadiens have a busy opening week, starting on Friday with the Buffalo Sabres. Saturday night sees the Habs visit their long time rival Toronto Maple Leafs, followed by a game Wednesday in Philadelphia. The Canadiens won’t make their home-ice debut until next week vs. Boston.

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